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Summer is here and it's the perfect time to get outside with your little one. Outdoor play time can help your child focus on new and exciting experiences in nature. Whether it's filling a bucket with rocks to carry around the yard and exert maximum energy or planting some seeds to watch them grow, setting up a Montessori-inspired outdoor play space provides a rich environment for fun and learning.

But don't overthink it, mama. A Montessori space can be organized and set up similar to an indoor play space with a few adjustments for size and safety. Some families like to have exposed shelves on a patio to store just a few items at a time while other designate bins or lower areas of a shed for their little ones toys and materials.

Here are a few ideas to create a Montessori-inspired outdoor space from Zahra Kassam, CEO and founder of Monti Kids:

1. Create a garden

From planting herbs and flowers to complex vegetables and trees, gardening is a great way to help kids appreciate the greenery around them. A study found that a healing garden at a children's hospital in California had positive effects on users—about 85% reported feeling more relaxed, refreshed or better able to cope after spending only five minutes in the garden.

"Gardening is a wonderful lesson on the power of nature but also in patience and care, says Kassam. "Invest in child-sized watering cans and tools."

2. Create access to water

Children learn through exploration and experience, and water is the perfect tool to explore. Having a watering can and water table for scooping, pouring, dumping, spraying and staying cool is the goal for fun in the sun. "You can also encourage water exploration with a hose on a safe setting, or even a jug of water that is refilled by you," says Kassam.

But whatever type of water play you decide, remember to be safe. According to the AAP, parents need to ensure "close, constant, attentive supervision around water [and assign] an adult 'water watcher,' who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores."

3. Play in sand

A sand area with buckets, shovels and trucks are also great for entertainment and child-lead learning. "Put that interest in building and creativity to work," says Kassam. "Sand is a great outlet for sensory fun with a different medium."

4. Create a mud kitchen

Mud may sound like a mess you'll want to avoid, but it's great to create an "anything goes" space, says Kassam. "Put the water and sand together and it's a great foundation to build, mix, scoop, dump and pour," she says.

5. Encourage play with gross motor toys

Push toys, ride on cars, big trucks, rakes, wheelbarrows, balls and slides are perfect for developing gross motor skills. If you have the space, create "parking spots" with tape or chalk lines for each one, says Kassam.

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6. Have many yard tools

A child-sized broom for sweeping sand and debris, a rake for sticks, leaves and a shovel for digging, planting and worm hunting (and shoveling snow in the winter!) will be staples in your outdoor space for years to come, says Kassam.

7. Play with art

According to Kassam, you'll want to regularly keep large paint brushes and a container for water to paint the patio, fence or sidewalk on hand. It's also great to have a bucket of sidewalk chalk to help your little one to find an outlet for their creative side while enjoying the outdoors.

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It may have been hard to imagine just a few weeks ago, but life with your baby is probably starting to feel like the new normal. From establishing sweet rituals throughout the day to finding ways to carve out that all-important time for yourself, you are really doing great, mama!

Your baby is also getting the hang of life on the outside, too. Especially if you two waged a battle against colic together, this is the point where you are probably claiming victory, which means interactions are getting all that much sweeter. As your baby feels more comfortable with their new world, you will probably notice that some new routines are falling into place, which makes this a good time to reinforce some healthy habits around nap time and bedtime.

With more reliable sleep schedules, you two might also have more energy to take on some stimulating at-home activities. If returning to work is also on the radar, whether in a home office or in a workplace, you might be wondering how you will balance it all. Trust us when we say that you can and will figure it out, just like millions of mamas and babies before you. Thankfully, you can also learn some of the best tips and tricks from them, too.

As you continue to settle into this exciting phase, here are some of our 3-month essentials for you and baby:

To takealong a favorite toy anywhere: Infantino Playtime Pal

Infantino Play Toy

Now that your baby is awake for longer stretches of time, a tactile toy can help keep their focus while you cross tasks off the list around the house.

$14.99

To keep organized: GO by Goldbug stroller organizer

stroller organizer

Why is it that blow-out diapers happen at the worst times?! Keep everything you need organized and within reach with a stroller organizer so you don't spend precious time searching for the wipes.

$16.99

To bottle-feed with ease: Dr. Brown’s bottle set

Dr. Browns

Cleaning bottles can feel like a part-time job, so make it as simple as possible for yourself with a set that is easy to clean. (A bottle-specific brush helps, too!)

$39.99

To offer tummy-friendly formula: Up&Up gentle formula

Babies often arrive in this world with mighty sensitive stomachs. If you are formula or combo-feeding, finding an option you both feel good about can do wonders.

$19.99

To entertain your mini Mozart: Baby Einstein ocean orchestra

baby einstein

Piano lessons might still be years in the future, but it's never too soon to start fostering your baby's music appreciation! By stimulating multiple senses during playtime, research shows babies experience even stronger cognitive benefits.

$19.99

To simplify pumping breaks: Spectra breast pump

breast pump

Whether you are going back to a job outside the home or simply want to help your baby get comfortable with an occasional bottle, breastfeeding mamas are going to want a workhorse pump that makes those pumping sessions as easy as possible.

$200

To keep breakfast simple: KIND breakfast bars

Kind bars

Gone are the days of taking your time to get ready in the morning. Make sure you always have breakfast covered with a supply of nutritious bars you can eat while multitasking.

$2.99

To get past the midday slump: Keurig k-mini single serve

Keurig

Unfortunately, multiple wake-ups during the night doesn't mean you'll get to sleep in longer. If the alarm went off too early, it can help to have a midday coffee break (or two).

$89.99

To protect your lobes from a grabby baby: A New Day stud earrings

New Day earrings

If dangling earrings are suddenly feeling like quite a hazard in the proximity of a handsy baby, swap them out for some stylish new studs. Your ears will thank you!

$7.99

To manage your day: The Time Factory mom life planner

mom life planner

Show mom brain who is boss by keeping all of your tasks and commitments together in one place. Now you'll know exactly what you're supposed to do on any given day.

$8.19

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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